FOR the past year, the collective voice for people in regional Australia frustrated with their poor internet coverage and unfair costs has been the social media group, Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR).


One of the administrators for BIRRR is Kristen Stahlhut-Coggan, Condamine local, mother of two primary-aged children and long-time friend of the group's founder, Kristy Sparrows.


BIRRR and Kristy Sparrows were so instrumental in their lobbying for better bush internet that when the story about the "data drought" was broadcast on ABC's Landline last Sunday, BIRRR's founder and members were key interview subjects.


The next day as Kristen Stahlhut-Coggan sat at her kitchen table, all three of her devices kept up a constant symphony of notifications from BIRRR's Facebook page.


"We've got 1000 new members just from last night's episode," Mrs Stahlhut-Coggan said.


As well as being the workplace health and safety officer for McDonald Holdings Pty Ltd's Nangram feedlot, a position that entails spending the majority of her time in the office online, Mrs Stahlhut-Coggan is also the president of the Western Downs division of the Isolated Children and Parents Association.


"We can't get more than 25 gigabytes a month through Bigpond, which is the biggest plan you can get on mobile broadband. I have two of these which cost me $320/month," Mrs Stahlhut-Coggan said.


"They say most primary school kids need 20 gigabytes of data a month and high schoolers need double that."


"Can you imagine trying to teach your kids through distance education on that?"


Meanwhile, on the business side of things, on Nangram's 10,000 acre feedlot, internet coverage, minimal data and high costs provides another headache every time livestock need to be moved.


"The NLIS (National Livestock Identification System) means every beast has a tag in its ear and it can't be moved until that information has been uploaded into a computer," Mrs Stahlhut-Coggan said.


Which is something that requires an internet connection. If all three documents cannot be digitally transferred for every individual head of cattle needing to be transported, those livestock cannot leave the property.


A setback which could amount to more than just an inconvenient blow to a producers' plans when, in Agribusiness, timing is everything.


The family's story is similar to many of their neighbours, but, they say they're probably more fortunate than most thanks to the infrastructure which came with CSG - the wells and camps of which surround Nangram.


"Condamine has had terrible internet for months, people are sick and tired of it," she said.


"Condamine are losing businesses because they can't get the internet they need."


But constant pressure from BIRRR on companies and the government is finally making them take notice of internet users in the bush.


"We pay through the nose for service that doesn't work adequately, and the onus is put on the customer by these companies to do the research to fix the problem- which you can't do without internet."

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